After a lousy start today, the Nasdaq 100 has steadily climbed and was rallying, leaving some options pros impressed with the positive intraday reversal in tech stocks.
"The action is absolutely excellent," said Jay Shartsis, options strategist at
in New York. The strategist thinks the downside has been exploited and the "action is speaking very strongly."
"I would not want to be short this market," Shartsis added.
The rebound in the Nasdaq 100, or NDX, came in spite of Wall Street downgrades of some high-profile technology stocks and ahead of earnings from
. The NDX rose 19.78 to 2331.18, after trading as low as 2237.45 intraday.
Yahoo! and Motorola are both slated to post earnings after the close.
With earnings season kicking off, Jordan Kahn, of
Kahn Asset Management
, said he'll closely watch how companies' stocks react. If companies post lackluster earnings but their stocks advance, it will signal that the market has put in at least a near-term bottom, Kahn said.
Kahn has his core long stock positions hedged with put options, reflecting neutral positioning. He said in the current market environment he doesn't want to make a big bet either way.
A put option gives the purchaser the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying security for a specific price by a certain date. Generally, investors buy put options to speculate on further downside on the underlying security, or as insurance against a long position.
Trading in options on the
Nasdaq 100 Unit Trust
, or QQQ, was notable as the underlying QQQ advanced $2.25 to $59.50. Call-options prices on the QQQ jumped. The January 60 calls were up 13/16 ($81.25) to 2 1/2 ($250) on volume of nearly 8,500 contracts.
A call option gives the purchaser the right but not the obligation to buy the underlying security for a specific price by a certain date.
One interesting facet of the upcoming January options expiration is that this will be the first options expiration where options that had been LEAPS (long-term equity anticipation securities) will expire since the Nasdaq debacle of 2000. Scott Fullman, chief options strategist at
Swiss American Securities
, said that call LEAPS purchased a year or two ago are going to be way
As an example, Fullman pointed to
. On Wednesday, shares of the company were trading up 25 cents to $2.06. As of Tuesday's close, open interest in the January 70 calls stood at 2,806 contracts. The January 70 calls at one time hit a high of 31 1/2 ($3,150), he said. On Wednesday, none of the contracts changed hands. It would be safe to say those contracts will expire worthless.
Fullman also took a look at
. Amazon.com was trading up 25 cents to $16.63 on Wednesday, while Sun was off 50 cents to $28.94.
Amazon January 25 calls had open interest of 7,098 contracts at Tuesday's close; the high for those calls was 63 5/8 ($6,362.50), he said. The contracts traded up 1/16 ($6.25) to 1/8 ($12.50) Wednesday.
Sun January 35 calls, which had open interest of 49,098 contracts at Tuesday's close, at one time had a contract high of 60 1/2 ($6,050), he said. On Wednesday, the contracts were changing hands at 3/8 ($37.50).